PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte announced Friday that there is reported spillover of the armed conflict in strife-torn Marawi City, Lanao del Sur to Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Duterte made the revelation at the 11th founding anniversary celebration of the Eastern Mindanao Command held in Panacan, Davao City.
In his speech, Duterte said he earlier mulled to lift the declaration of martial rule in Mindanao but had changed his mind as it appeared that the armed struggle in Marawi City already spread to ARMM, specifically in Buldon, Maguindanao.
“I was thinking that they could lift it earlier but the way it looks, it seems like there’s spillover to ARMM and in Buldon [in Maguindanao province],” the President told his audience.
“Let us see. If it is to the interest of the country that I will lift it, I will lift it. But if not, we just have to continue with the martial law,” he added.
Duterte placed Mindanao under martial law on May 23, after Islamic State (IS)-inspired terrorists engaged in a firefight with the government troops who were initially conducting an operation against Abu Sayyaf leader and alleged IS emir Isnilon Hapilon.
The IS-linked Maute terror group laid siege to Marawi City in an attempt to establish caliphate for IS fighters in Southeast Asia.
The proclamation of martial law in beleaguered Mindanao lapsed on July 22 after reaching the 60-day period but was extended by Congress until end of December 2017 to completely quell the insurgency of Maute extremists.
The death toll in Marawi crisis has risen to 801, as of August 31. The casualties include 620 Islamist fighters, 136 government troops, and 45 civilians.
Amid martial law in Mindanao, Duterte reiterated that he would no longer intervene in the continuing offensives against the terrorists in Marawi City, noting that he is now letting the state forces to look for ways on how they would end the armed conflict in war-torn city.
On Wednesday, the Commander-in-Chief said he already gave his greenlight to the security troops to make their own decisions in addressing the terror acts perpetrated by Maute rebels. (SunStar Philippines)